“In America: An Anthology of Fashion.” That’s the theme for this year’s Met Gala. Based on the Costume Institute’s two-part exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this second installation by the Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of the Costume Institute, Andrew Bolton, stresses the principles of American style. In addition, it honors US design’s anonymous and unsung heroes.
In September of 2021, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” the opening part of the event, was established. Since then, guests have begun writing the museum with novel concepts of words to put in the lexicon.
“They’re really engaging with the concept for the exhibition, which is this sort of new language for American fashion. That’s been really exciting,” Bolton says, and the second installation, “In America: An Anthology of Fashion,” can attract additional comments from guests.
Displayed throughout 13 of the American period rooms in the museum, Bolton says that the exhibition “provides a historical context for Lexicon, in a way.” While “Lexicon” provides an expansive ambiance, “Anthology” dives into the backbone of American style that is commonly unseen.
“The stories really reflect the evolution of American style, but they also explore the work of individual tailors, dress-makers, and designers,” Bolton continued. “What’s exciting for me is that some of the names will be very familiar to students of fashion like Charles James, Halston, and Oscar de la Renta, but a lot of the other names have been forgotten, overlooked or relegated into the footnotes of fashion history. So, one of the main intentions of the exhibition is to spotlight the talents and contributions of these individuals, and many of them are women.”
The complete list proves Bolton’s speculation to be accurate, with a few people may know and a few people might not be familiar with: Bill Blass, Marguery Bolhagen, Brooks Brothers, Stephen Burrows, Fannie Criss Payne, Josephine H. Egan, Franziska Noll Gross, Anne Klein, Lloyd “Kiva” New. Six more “case studies,” as Bolton calls them, the majority from anonymous artists, will be displayed to encourage an extensive interrelation with artistry and craft through a single project.
The designers that have been included mainly came from “research that we’ve been doing on our collection archives,” Bolton further states. “We’ve been exploring untold stories and focusing on designers who have been almost written out of fashion history because they weren’t commercially successful or they had a short career span, but at the time had a big impact on American fashion.”